Continuing my series on DC Comics’ Before Watchmen comics, I had a chance to read the first issue of the fan favorite anti-hero comic book character “Rorschach” a.k.a. Walter Joseph Kovacs. Kovacs who grew up in a disadvantaged single parent home hates living in New York City. As a child, his mother made a living as a prostitute. She loved Walter as her son, but hated him for being a “burden” to her. Having an upbringing such as this during his formative years had dire consequences, which affected him as an adult, and as the masked vigilante Rorschach.
A gloved serial killer dubbed “The Bard” leaves the nude body of a woman in a dumpster. He has carved his missive into her flesh with a scalpel. Leaving a clear message to the authorities, it reads, “I CAN’T HELP MYSELF… BUT I DON’T NEED TO. I CAN’T HELP MYSELF… BUT NEITHER CAN YOU.”
Enter, Dwayne Carter, an unassuming hustler, who is sitting and enjoying himself in a porno booth or flog box when he is visited by Rorschach. Rorschach wants to find a stash of drugs before it hits the streets. He beats and tortures Carter until Carter gives up the ghost and tells him that the drugs are hidden in the sewer.
Rorschach makes his way into the rat infested sewers where he discovers two thugs rolling dice in front of a large metal door. He stealthily gets the jump on the two hoodlums and lays them out cold, but when he opens the door, he is in for a surprise.
A horribly, burned and scarred gangster known only as “Crime” and his henchmen waylay Rorschach and taunt, beat, and burn him. They leave him for rodent fodder in the sewer, and celebrate their triumph by who-riding through town in their pimped out shiny, caddy. Crime declares, “This town belongs to us now!”
A wounded and broken Rorschach manages to crawl out of the sewer and breaks into a pharmacy to acquire some much needed pain medication and bandages. The following morning he turns up at the neighborhood hangout “Gunga Diner.” The employees are shocked by Kovac’s bruised and battered appearance. He explains that he was mugged the night before, and they proceed to tell him “The Bard” had killed again. He tells them the world is coming to its end.
The still disturbed diner staff wonder why the disheveled and obviously destitute Kovacs was mugged. He explains, “The muggers… they made a mistake.”
A waitress replies, “Meaning you didn’t have anything on you…”
Kovacs retorts, “No. Meaning I’m not dead.”
(To be continued…)
Rorschach (Kovacs) lives in the seedier part of New York City. Prostitution, debauchery, and drugs run rampant with the lack of law enforcement. Using his agility and fighting skills Kovacs wages a one man crusade to clean up the streets. A futile gesture to be sure, but he doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit. He loathes his roots and the criminals frequenting the streets, and he could easily leave and find an quieter, happier life elsewhere. Unfortunately, he is a stranger to any other lifestyle, and he knows the ground he stands on all too well.
Instead of conforming and letting his surroundings be, he chooses to change things for the better with his version of reality. He can be a little obsessed with his crusades, and over exaggerate the urgency of a matter, but he fights for truth, justice, and the rights of the weak with only one drawback. He believes the world is coming to an end!
Questions now arise! How will the woman’s body which was carved up on a gurney, and placed inside a dumpster by the serial killer “The Bard” figure into the plot? What will Rorschach do to the thug Crime? My guess is he will kick his ass first, and then kill him, and that goes for anyone working for him. Finally, where is the criminal mastermind known as Big Figure?
Do I recommend this book? Yes, and buy the other three issues when they hit the stands! This is Rorschach at his best and in his most classic moments.
The “Rorschach” story “damntown” is written by Brian Azzarello, with art by Lee Bermejo, and colors by Barbara Ciardo. Check out the cover, which has an awesome Rorschach illustration with the ink spots forming an image of Rorschach within the pattern of his mask. The comic is Rated M for Mature Readers.
“Watchmen” was created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Here are the other titles in the Before Watchmen series: “Minutemen,” “Silk Spectre,” “Comedian,” “Ozymandias,” “Nite Owl,” and “Doctor Manhattan.”
Source: DC Comic’s Before Watchmen: “Rorschach” Issue #1 of Four